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SMC Softball: Saint Mary’s falls in two straight vs. Alma

Chris Masoud | Monday, April 6, 2009

The Belles’ seven-game winning streak came to an abrupt end this weekend as the team dropped a pair of games to Alma.

Saint Mary’s (18-4, 4-2 MIAA) and dropped to fourth in the MIAA rankings.

The Scots’ (16-9, 6-2 MIAA) bats were silenced for the better part of the opening match, as Belles freshman Monica Palicki kept them guessing her first time through the lineup.

But Alma, who finished first in the MIAA regular season standings last year, wouldn’t be shut out for long. The Scots erupted for three runs in the bottom of the fourth and six in the bottom of the sixth to cruise to a 9-1 win in five innings.

“We came out real flat in the first four innings,” Belles coach Erin Sullivan said. “We were just a little intimidated, weren’t really playing our game, so it kind of took us out of it right away.”

Palicki, who entered the game with an ERA of 1.18 and 20 strikeouts on the year, suffered the loss. Freshman Kristen Nelson was responsible for the Belles’ lone run, smashing her second big fly of the season over the center field wall in the top of the fifth.

Unable to prevent the Scots’ big inning in the first game, the Belles came out ready to play in the back end of the doubleheader. In a display of fundamental softball, Saint Mary’s scored three runs on three hits in the bottom of the third to take the early lead.

Senior Cathy Kurczak and freshman Lauren Enayati got the ball rolling by leading off the frame with a pair of back-to-back singles. MIAA player of the week Maureen Healy moved the runners into scoring position after executing a sacrifice bunt, and junior Ashley Peterson walked to load the bases.

Senior Ashley Fusaro, batting .492 coming into the weekend, drove in Kurczak on a single to left field. Two batters later, freshman Hayley Bojorquez hit a two-out double to right-center field to bring home Peterson and Fusaro.

Nevertheless, the Scots came back to steal a win from the Belles, scoring four runs over the last three frames to secure a 4-3 win and the sweep.

“I really hope we play them again,” Sullivan said. “I know we’ll win the next game. We know exactly what they’re going to do.”

Freshman Angela Gillis went the distance, striking out three along the way only to pick up her first loss of the season. Despite the heartbreaking loss, Sullivan was fully confident that her pitching staff will be ready to go this week.

“She [Gillis] is just one of the most composed pitchers I think I’ve ever seen,” Sullivan said. “If someone gets a hit off her, you can see it in her face that she wants to get the next out. She never overreacts, she’s never overemotional.”

The Belles will try to start a new winning streak when they take on cross-town rival Bethel College tonight at 6 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.